Upper West Side Korean
Just ate at Jin Dae Lee (sp?) a brand new Korean restaurant on 84th and Amsterdam.
I liked it a lot.
I like Korean food, but am no expert. I've eaten in a few of the places in "little Korea" near 34th street. IMHO, this place compares with them. And it's three blocks from my apartment.
I had an appetizer of Duk something something, described as "Sauteed rice cakes in spicy garlic sauce". It wasn't what I expected, but it was good. The "cakes" were tubular, and glutinous/chewy rather than crispy; it also wasn't particularly spicy. Perhaps they toned it down for me. The sauce had some carrots and some red peppers (bell peppers), and some garlic, and it was a little spicy.
For a main course I had one of my favorite Korean dishes: Hae Mul Pae Jun, which is a seafood pancake. It was also quite good, although it could have been hotter (temperature wise).
It came with a fairly typical assortment of side dishes, including kimchee-spicy cabbage, some sort of root vegetable, a rather plain bean-curd like dish, etc.
After the meal, they brought me a teacup full of some cold, sweet-spicy-herby drink. It was a little too sweet for me, but good.
The service was very polite, although my waitress had very limited English.
I'd be interested in the opinions of those more expert in Korean food.
Went there a week ago. For people living on the UWS, I'd say for the most part, the restaurant replaces making a trip down to mid-Manhattan. I thought the pan-chan was very good and the bibimbap was fine (thought the fake crab meat included was a little odd). The only issue I had was the bulgogi which was just ok - (a little too sweet). There is no grilling at the table and I'm very biased towards cooking one's own. I'd say go to midtown if you want barbecue and grill you own. Otherwise, you can save yourself the trip.
i don't get over to the west side too often but if i do i'll check the place out (not that i'm an expert, but i'm korean, so that does count for something :-)). it's good to see korean branching out to other parts of the city. i could use one near me over on the upper east. but i thought i'd let you know about a few of your dishes.
the rice cakes in spicy sauce is called duk boki. along with haemul pajun it's one of the mainstay korean appetizers which everyone loves. jim leff loves the dukboki at kang suh on 32nd b/w 5th and 6th. i haven't tried it there but recently i had some at kum gang san which is across the street from there. it was quite good.
that cold, sweet spicy herby drink i think is called shik-hae. it takes a little getting used to, but i think it's a great end of the meal washer downer. it should taste of honey and cinnamon. my favorite part is eating the little bits of rice floating on the bottom of the cup. yummy.
well, glad you liked your meal there. upper west siders are lucky to have such a spot in the neighborhood. if you have any questions, always feel free to ask. happy eating.
After reading about this promising new Korean place right in my own neighborhood, my sister and I rushed over to sample it--before they replace all the most unusual authentic dishes with stuff to satisfy Upper West Side "Taste(less) buds." (Try ordering unusual dishes or REAL Chinese veg, one month after a newly opened Chinese place here figures out what so many people in my neighborhood are willing to put up with!!") Or likewise Vietnamese restaurants. (I like to make myself particularly irritating by phoning in every few days for those same items that are somehow never "available," until the restaurant gets honest--and takes it off the menu. And then I explain to the staff there, why I'm not happy about the changeover to "American" tastes. By the way--I'm not referring to off-season foods--just the "real" stuff that somehow fades into the sunset within a month.)
I'm digressing! The Korean food was delicious. We were there at 2 pm--so didn't want too huge a meal. Instead of ordering huge meat or fish plates, we first shared those wonderful rice cakes (tubular-shaped) in a sort of smoky, tangy sauce (Dukboki.) And we quickly polished off all the palate "wake-up-call" side dishes.
Then, the piece de resistance! Kimchee stew with flavorful pork slices (not enough!), soft, melting tofu cubes, spicy kimchee and a few other vegs, of whichI wasn't quite sure I had the identity right! But it was all excellent. Even the broth itself was distinctive--tangy, spicy and worth cleaning the bowl, no matter how much my stomach was protesting all that cabbage by then!!
The drink at the end--Shikhae--cold, sweet and a cinnamon lover's dream was the perfect end. I finished all the grains at the bottom.
Am anxious to go back and try some clam dishes, meat, etc. I was pleasantly surprised to see the restaurant still pretty active at 3 pm--and that they finally turned down those killer heating vents that nearly suffocated us the first 15 minutes we were there!!
Our waitress couldn't have been sweeter or more helpful. (She's Korean and has been in America for six months--and although she protested her English was terrible--it wasn't!)
I've been back to Jin Dae Lae at 84th and Amsterdam, a bunch of times since this thread. (It's 3 blocks from my apartment). I continue to like all that I've had there.
One thing I really like is that the spicy food is SPICY. Lots of places would tone it down for westerners.
One interesting thing happened on one recent visit. A couple with a small child came in. Mother was Korean, father not. The woman gradually grew incensed over the meal. Started off complaining in English, with generic type stuff, then went ranting on in Korean.
Anyway, I haven't let HER opinion stop me from going; I like it, that's enough for me. But I was wondering if any of the rest of you had been here since, and what you all thought.
My most recent viist to Jin Dae Lae was about six weeks ago--and the food was as good as remembered.
Instead of jumping for my usual favorite--fiery pork with kimchee--this time 'round, I opted for the soothing seafood with tofu--a deliciously mellow, silken dish. My friend, who prefers her food in the Dantesque range, took my recommendation and went for the pork with kimchee. And my sister, feeling particularly carnivoras, chose the bulgori (do I have the right word? Those tangy ribs?)
As soon as we were seated, a glorious profusion of spicy snacks were set all around us--the perfect rev-up for the meal. We left nothing unfinished!
When you live in the Upper Westside Taste Wasteland, you become very grateful to ethnic restaurants that remain true to their roots and do not condescend to our taste buds. True, there may be better, more authentic Korean places in the 30's and further downtown--but it's good to be able to have one of our own in the 'hood! I hope more people in our area support Jin Dae Lae's great effort to offer us more exciting dining.
I went for the first time last night and thought it was great (tho I know nothing about Korean food).
Not realizing that we were going to get all those delicious mini appetizers (especially liked the squid in soy sauce, the fish cakes and the picked radish), we ordered dumplings which were good - very crispy and hot, but not amazing.
We had the kalbi (beef ribs), which was delicious, although a few pieces were sort of tough, and the seafood pancake which was also really good, though fairly oily.
The service was friendly, helpful and attentive (eg., described all the appetizers; asked us if we wanted more lettuce when there was only one leaf left on our plate).
The place was pretty empty at 9:00 on a Wednesday -- I hope they do enough business to stay around.